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News stories tagged with "shipping"

Using a refractometer to test salinity in ballast water. Photo: David Sommerstein
Using a refractometer to test salinity in ballast water. Photo: David Sommerstein

NY pushes Obama administration to toughen ballast water protections

A state vs. federal feud over ballast water carried by ocean-going freighters is heating up again.

New York is steward of a long stretch of the St. Lawrence River. Since the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened to international shipping in the 50s, it's been a major route for invasive species that have ended up in the Great Lakes and their tributaries.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation has tough ballast water standards set to go into effect next year. The DEC -- and many environmentalists -- think the strict new rules are needed to keep more invasive plants and animals from reaching the US.

Officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency -- along with the shipping industry -- think less stringent laws will keep invasives out - and they say their standards are achievable.

Brian Mann spoke about the debate with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
Should the shipping industry do more to stop invasives?  (Source:  USGS)
Should the shipping industry do more to stop invasives? (Source: USGS)

Top EPA official embraces NY's controversial ballast water rules

For the first time, a top official with the US Environmental Protection Agency has publicly embraced New York's tough new ballast water rules. Those regulations, scheduled to go into effect next year, are designed to stop invasions of non-native animals and plants, like zebra mussels and the spiny water flea.

Industry groups, members of congress and some Federal officials are pushing back hard, arguing that the regulations set standards that can't be met by existing technology. The want New York's rules scrapped. And they're lobbying the EPA to create national ballast water guidelines that are far less strict.

But as Brian Mann reports, the top EPA administrator in New York says new regulations should push the shipping industry to do more to help stop invasives.  Go to full article
Will NY's tough ballast water rules shut down commerce? Photo: USGS
Will NY's tough ballast water rules shut down commerce? Photo: USGS

New York's tough ballast water rules attacked in Congress

New York state is facing new pressure to scrap tough ballast water regulations that are set to go into effect next year. The rules are designed to stop invasive species from reaching the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

But as Brian Mann reports, Republicans in Congress say New York should be stripped of hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal EPA funding if the regulations aren't scrapped.  Go to full article
Administrator Collister Johnson (Source:  SLSDC)
Administrator Collister Johnson (Source: SLSDC)

Top Seaway administrator says ship traffic up, improvements coming

The St. Lawrence Seaway is one of the biggest shipping channels in the world, stretching from the Atlantic to Lake Ontario. In recent years, the system of locks and channels has struggled to build traffic and attract companies interested in shipping cargos through to the Great Lakes.

This year, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, which operates the US side of the channel,is requesting $34 million dollars in appropriations from Congress. The money will go to operate the locks in Massena, and it will be used to fund upgrades to the system.

Brian Mann spoke with Collister Johnson, who heads the Development Corporation. He says traffic on the Seaway is rebounding.  Go to full article
The fact is the Seaway is closed three months a year. Even then, it has to compete against rail rates.

Industry analyst skeptical of Seaway container growth

We heard St. Lawrence Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson talk about bringing "containers" into the Seaway. Those are the norm of international commerce - all-purpose boxes that fit on ships, trucks, and trains. They can carry anything from paper clips to teddy bears to computers.

Seaway officials have trumpeted container traffic as a huge growth opportunity for the better part of a decade. Yet the infrastructure's still not in place. Few, if any, Great Lakes ports have the cranes to off-load containers.

Todd Moe reports at least one industry analyst is skeptical.  Go to full article
U.S. Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson (left) poses with other industry leaders as the first freighter of the season enters the St. Lambert lock.
U.S. Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson (left) poses with other industry leaders as the first freighter of the season enters the St. Lambert lock.

Seaway burnishes "green" profile

Last week, the first freighter of the year rumbled up the St. Lawrence River. That marked the 53rd season of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a man-made channel linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.

The Seaway's billion dollars of commerce is mostly an economic conversation between Canada's southern coast, America's Midwest, and the far-flung ports of the world.

But it's caused vast environmental damage in the North Country and across the Great Lakes, largely via invasive species.

David Sommerstein went to the Seaway's opening ceremony last week in Montreal. He sends this report on the Seaway's delicate balance between the economy and the environment.  Go to full article
The Avonberg carries wind turbine blades through St. Lambert lock in Montreal
The Avonberg carries wind turbine blades through St. Lambert lock in Montreal

Seaway projects cargo increase

St. Lawrence Seaway officials are forecasting a cargo increase over last year. The first freighter of the 2011 shipping season rumbled through the locks in Montreal on Tuesday. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
The <em>Hermann Schoening</em> [Photo from Erie Shipping News blog]
The Hermann Schoening [Photo from Erie Shipping News blog]

Aboard a cold Seaway ship with a sick crew

Twenty-two Chinese seamen are resting up in Montreal after a harrowing Christmas journey through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The crew aboard the German-owned Hermann Schoening became violently ill after phosphine gas leaked into the living and working spaces. The gas is used regularly as a fumigant to kill pests in the cargo hold. The freighter is carrying 19,000 tons of midwestern corn bound for Algeria.

The crew was treated at a hospital in Ontario. But the ship then continued on with windows open to air out the gas.

Don Metzger piloted the freighter from Lake Ontario through the St. Lawrence River to Massena. He's been a Seaway pilot for more than 30 years. He told David Sommerstein he's never seen anything like this happen before. Metzger says the crew was sick and cold, and unprepared for winter weather.
Carolyn Osbourne of the Mariners House of Montreal says the crew spent yesterday recovering after being sickened by phosphine gas. She says they received a second hospital checkup, as well as warm coats, gloves, and Christmas gifts while in port. The ship was scheduled to resume its travels this morning.

An official with Transport Canada says the incident is under investigation. The shipowners could be fined if violations of the Canada Shipping Act are found. But the gas leak is so far being considered an anomaly.  Go to full article
Bruce Power's nuclear power plant on Lake Huron
Bruce Power's nuclear power plant on Lake Huron

Groups raise alarm over shipping nuclear waste on Seaway

A coalition is trying to stop a nuclear plant from shipping low-level radioactive waste to Sweden by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Bruce Power operates North America's largest nuclear power plant northwest of Toronto. The company says its plan is safe and good for the environment. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Laker spills fuel near Montreal; Seaway closed

Emergency response teams continue to clean up a fuel spill in a canal of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. A Canadian ship leaked at least 50 tons of bunker fuel when it ran aground Monday night. Environment officials say they believe most of the oil has been contained. But it's unclear exactly how much leaked into the waterway. It's the second time in as many weeks a ship has run aground on the St. Lawrence Seaway. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

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